Rhode Island Legislature Joins Plan To Effectively Abolish Electoral College

The second-place finisher in the 2000 presidential election

Late last week, both houses of the Rhode Island General Assembly voted to add their state to the National Popular Vote Compact, a plan to effectively abolish the Electoral College and ensure that the winner of the popular vote becomes president in future elections. The bill now moves to Gov. Lincoln Chafee (D), who says he supports it.

Under the compact, states whose total votes equal at least 270 electoral votes — the amount necessary to elect the president — must pledge to award their electors to whoever wins the popular vote in the nation as a whole, even if that person does not carry their state. The compact does not take effect until the requite number of states have signed onto it, and must also be approved by Congress before it can take effect.

One effect of this compact, in addition to preventing a situation like 2000 where the loser of the popular vote ultimately moved into the White House, is it would also shut down attempts to rig the Electoral College itself. Earlier this year, Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus said that “a lot of states that have been consistently blue that are fully controlled red” should rig future presidential elections by allocating their electoral votes by congressional district. Such a plan would not only take advantage of gerrymandering that benefits Republicans, it would also be limited to blue states currently controlled by Republican state governments. Red states would continue to allocate 100 percent of their electoral votes to the Republican candidate: